Project goals – SMART alone is not enough!

A contribution to the topic „goal-based project planning with TaskBrowse“.

Clear, understandable and verifiable goals are an elementary basic requirement for project success. Without them, the basis for quality management is missing: a necessary reference for quality would be missing.

When preparing for a project, the project goals are discussed and, as far as possible, concretized. The SMART rule is often used as a yardstick: a goal should be formulated SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attractive, Realistic, Timed).

However, it is far more important that the client and contractor develop a common vision of the goals.

And this is not feasible in one meeting or several short meetings. Instead, it is a longer and iterative, even incremental process.

Shared understanding is the result of a communication process among all stakeholders.

„Build me a house! Big, beautiful, environmentally friendly and sustainable.“

 In order to successfully implement such a project in the interest of all stakeholders, the qualitative goals must be concretized and translated into functional goals and requirements: What does „beautiful“ mean? When is a house „environmentally friendly?“

Clarifying this is an „iterative & incremental“ 😉 communication process where there is no shortcut!  It must be possible to define, concretize and check quality objectives! This requires that the quality to be achieved is „pre-thought“ / planned in the early activities of the project … and initial considerations about measurement criteria, measurement methods & metrics … are made. So the original question (When is the project successful?) has to be answered also beyond the end of the project – for the utilization period of the project result. And this is summarized in the quality planning – and gives answers on how to check this quality.

TaskBrowse has been extended in order to be able to map exactly this way of thinking.


There will be several stages in this process of goal setting and concretization. The (intermediate) result will be mapped as a quality target diagram in TaskBrowse.

In the webinar, a multi-stage method for goal setting will be presented and described in the form of method profiles.

In a nutshell, goal planning is an iterative process that extends well into the project. At the beginning of the preparation of the project, the client usually has a very vague understanding of the goals. Often it is only „clear“ that a product has to be developed or a process has to be improved; however, this project idea is still far from being concretized.

As the project team becomes increasingly involved with the problem space and the project requirements, the project goals become clearer and clearer: a common understanding of the (quality) goals of the client and the project team begins to take shape. This is also the result of an iterative and highly communicative process. The necessary clarity of the project goals cannot be developed in the required quality by the project management alone. In addition, the necessary common understanding must be developed. And this is only made possible by the communicative process of goal planning, which extends far into the project.

If this process does not succeed, the success of the project is endangered!

This process of goal planning is outlined as follows:

The project goals should be defined and agreed upon as far as possible at the beginning of the project. For this purpose, goal planning should have taken place at the beginning of the project, which formulates the goals as concretely and verifiably as possible at this point in time. For this purpose, an (initial) goal structure can be created. The focus should be on the formulation of quality objectives. Quality objectives are measurable – that is, concretely verifiable objectives. A functional goal, on the other hand, is „met or not met,“ a deadline goal is „met or exceeded,“ a „financial goal could be met or not“

A quality goal, on the other hand, is scalable; quality must be formulated in a measurable way so that the degree of goal achievement is verifiable.

Back to the initial example:

An architect receives the order „Build a house – big, beautiful …“. According to experience, he will clarify what exactly the order means and question and concretize the attributes large, beautiful and …. That the house should have an entrance, on the other hand, is to be taken for granted: a door – i.e. a functional goal! Whether it is a fully automatic door, which automatically recognizes authorized users, on the other hand, is rather a quality goal and to be checked! The design scope is defined by deadline and budget targets (restrictions).

It is therefore in the nature of a project that the goals are still relatively vague at the beginning or in the early phases and can only be made more and more concrete in the course of the project.

Target planning is therefore a tool that can still be useful and applied during project implementation.

Process of goal planning

The following process steps are to be gone through (several times):

The detailed steps are described in three method profiles. In the webinar „goal-based project planning with TaskBrowse“ we will present how TaskBrowse can support them in this approach from goal planning – from goals to goal-oriented measures.

● Collect goals (from target specifications and own visions).

● Hierarchically structure, order, and refine goals.

● Formulate in a „structure-appropriate“ manner

● Establish completeness

● Show dependencies

● Prioritize goals

● Develop ideas for solutions

● Derive appropriate measures

● Operationalize (make goals measurable)

● Planning QA and monitoring success

● Deriving risks …..


A tree structure is used as the presentation format. It is a simplification of reality – i.e. a model. However, this model (in a permissible form) reduces complexity and supports the communicative process of goal setting in the team.

Would you like to learn more about the possibilities of TaskBrowse?!

Register for the webinar today:

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